ALLIANCE FRANCAIS FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL : NENEH SUPERSTAR

Director Ramzi Ben Sliman’s terrific film is about having a vocation and striving to achieve your dreams, while battling major obstacles. Antony Diaz’s cinematography, Basile Belkhiri editing, and Jean-Bohémond Leguay’s music are great.

While it is family based and explores the beautiful yet extremely demanding world of ballet, it also raises the significant issue of racism. Not just here – Misty Copeland, a black ballerina, has posted a shocking photo of ‘blackface’ at the Bolshoi Ballet and there is also the use of ‘yellow face ‘(not for this film but it is relevant for other dance, theatre, musicals and opera productions).It asks the question – where are all the black ballerinas?

We follow Neneh-Fanta Gnaoré’s (Oumy Bruni Garrel) life. She discovers she has a vocation and hopes to become a ballerina,training at the Opera de Paris Ballet School.But she strikes obstacles with the school’s strict rules. Her parents (Steve Tientcheu and Aïssa Maïga) are very supportive.

Neneh comes across as self confident and assured, a terrific dancer but at times rude and explosively tempered (she trashes her room).We see how she is bullied, and attacked at one point. Only twelve years old, she has to deal with big emotions. There is also an unexpected, glorious hip hop needle drop sequence.

When completing the forms to apply to attend the school, the girls are also asked about their parents, including height and weight .Bullies are given a lighter punishment than Nehneh when she explodes, and she is flagrantly excluded from a chance to lead the class production of Snow White because of her skin colour.

Neneh reveres the one-time prima ballerina, Mme Marianne Belage, (Maïwenn), the school’s director, who was a prima ballerina with the Paris Opera.Nehneh is just one of seven girls chosen from a massive gathering of potential aspirants and Marianne reminds her that she is there to be challenged.

A film for ballet lovers that raises some very important issues.

Running time just under 90 minutes

Neneh Superstar screened as part of the Alliance Francais French Film Festival 18 March – 8 April

DIRECTED BY:
RAMZI BEN SLIMAN

STARRING:
OUMY BRUNI GARREL
MAÏWENN
AÏSSA MAÏGA
CÉDRIC KAHN
STEVE TIENTCHEU
DRAMA / FRANCE / 2022 / 97 MINS / M
FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/film/neneh-superstar

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